What Is a DApp? A Beginner’s Guide to Decentralized Applications (DApps)

What Is a DApp? A Beginner’s Guide to Decentralized Applications (DApps)

When it comes to innovating, the crypto industry is becoming one of the fastest-paced industries in the world. With each new day comes the promise of an innovation that could change the way things work. One of the industry’s most prolific innovations has been the development of Decentralized Applications (DApps). Read on to discover what DApps are, how they work, and what kind of DApps you can use today.

What Is a DApp in Crypto? 

A decentralized application (DApp) is a software application that runs according to rules set out using smart contracts on a distributed blockchain network.  

Just like centralized software applications, DApps can be used for a wide variety of things. For instance, you can have a DApp that is structured as a game, one that helps carry out financial transactions, one used to track the movement of goods, and more. 

How Do Decentralized Applications Differ From Traditional Applications? 

The key difference between decentralized applications and traditional applications is that DApps have a degree of centralization, enabled by smart contracts and their underlying blockchain networks.

Decentralization in the context of blockchain means that no person, organization, or country has full control over a blockchain network or application. Instead, the ‘control’ is spread over participants in the network. 

While this sounds like a security risk, most DApps have put security measures in place that demands there to be a general consensus in the community, which is usually maintained by a DAO composed of token holders, before any change is made to the DApp’s code.

On the flip side, traditional applications are usually built by individuals or companies, who have sole control over the app and how it functions. This means that the app’s developers remain in full control and can decide to make changes at any point, which may be detrimental to the users of the application. 

Moreover, data stored with DApps is not stored centrally. That helps ensure data integrity and security, which has been a challenge in many traditional applications like social media apps. 

Lastly, there is also typically a difference in programming languages. Since DApps are fundamentally different from traditional apps, they require different coding languages to be built. For example, DApp developers on Ethereum, which is the biggest smart contract blockchain network, currently use two coding languages: Solidity and Vyper, both of which are used to create smart contracts. In this way, developers will need to be familiar with the coding language of the blockchain they build a DApp on. In traditional apps, the coding languages are pretty standard across the board. Fortunately, some blockchain support popular coding languages for the creation of blockchain applications.

Other than Ethereum, there are several different blockchain networks to build DApps on, including BNB Smart Chain, Tron, Tezos, Solana, and more. 

DApp Use Cases: What Types of DApps Exist? 

DApps are being used across different sectors and for a range of use cases. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular types of DApps in the market. 

DApps in Finance

Perhaps unsurprisingly in the world of crypto, finance is the biggest market for DApps. The DeFi market is composed of a range of decentralized applications that enable users to trade cryptocurrencies, invest in digital assets, earn interest on stablecoins, and more. All DeFi protocols are powered by smart contracts and operate autonomously without the need for a centralized party to process transactions.

DApps in Gaming

One of the biggest industries influenced by DApps is gaming. There is an array of decentralized play-to-earn blockchain gaming applications that enable gamers to earn tokens for winning battles or for selling in-game items in the secondary market.

DApps in E-Commerce

DApps have also disrupted the E-Commerce industry by creating marketplaces for decentralized, peer-to-peer piurchases. Thanks to blockchain technology, proof of ownership after a sale can be proven through the use of NFTs, which can be managed through DApps, making trade safer. Some instances in which this has been evident is through the sale of art and music NFTs, which has grown into a multi-million dollar industry.

Top Three Ethereum DApps By Usage Numbers

Let’s take a look at the top three DApps with the highest user numbers for the top smart contract blockchain, Ethereum.


OpenSea is a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace that facilitates the creation, buying, and selling of various items represented as NFTs. Some of the things that you could buy on OpenSea include artwork, music, domains, virtual land, and more.

OpenSea had a user base of 299,910 users in the last month at the time of writing, according to DAppRadar, making it the most commonly used DApp on the Ethereum network.

Uniswap V2 and V3

Uniswap is an on-chain liquidity protocol on Ethereum and is commonly referred to as a decentralized exchange (DEX). In this way, Uniswap enables the exchange of tokens without the need for an intermediary. 

Currently, Uniswap V2 and V3 are the second and third most used DApp on the Ethereum network. Their differences are additional features that are distinctive from the original Uniswap. Uniswap V3 has had a total of 96,630 users in the last month.

MetaMask Swap

MetaMask Swap is a decentralized exchange built by the team behind the popular MetaMask wallet. With over 90,000 users in the last 30 days, MetaMask Swap has emerged as one of the most-used decentralized trading applications in the web3 space.

What Is a DApp Browser? 

If you would like to interact with a DApp, you will need a DApp Browser. A DApp browser connects users to the smart contracts on the blockchain. By doing this, users are able to interact with DApps through devices like phones or computers. 

The most common DApp browsers come with cryptocurrency wallets like Trust Wallet, MetaMask, and Coinbase Wallet. In a lot of cases, these wallets can be downloaded as apps on a phone, or installed as an extension on a personal computer.  


What Are DApps Used for?

DApps have many uses depending on the individual use case. From financial trading and decentralized gaming to social media and eCommerce, DApps can be used for a wide range of different purposes.

Can You Make Money With DApps?

Yes. The entire DeFi market exists only to enable crypto-savvy users to make money. Alternatively, you could play blockchain-based play-to-earn games to earn some money. Here, you would be earning from meeting goals in the game or by trading in-game items. 

How Many DApps Are There?

Each day, new DApps are created. Therefore, it’s difficult to tell exactly how many DApps are in existence at a specific point in time. However, the best way to keep track of the number of DApps on a blockchain is to visit DApp tracking sites like DAppRadar.